About SYC . . .

School for Young Children Welcome to the website of the School for Young Children in Columbus, Ohio. Our program was founded in 1969 as a part-time preschool program.  Our philosophy has remained consistent through the years; that children be allowed to develop at their own pace in an atmosphere of free play enriched with a variety of creative materials and the support of teachers who respect them as individuals.

As a community outreach program of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, we are a welcoming school--we do not discriminate upon the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or cultural background of parents or children.

Carpenter or Gardener?

Posted on March 16, 2018 in category Director's Blog

Carpenter or Gardener?

As a part of our continuing growth as a staff, we recently dove into a book study on The Carpenter and The Gardener by Alison Gopnik.  The book explores the different ways parents can raise kids by looking at modern styles of parenting.

This analogy of the Carpenter is the idea that you start with a specific kind of material or model in mind and your job is to shape the material into a final product.  You measure twice and cut once.  You use precision and control to shape your product.  You select the best tools and equipment to ensure that your final product is exactly as you expected.  You assess the job by looking at the final product and your vision to create a “chair” creates a chair.  Your product of course is your child.  A carpenter may think “Here’s how I want my child to come out.  If I do the right things and read the right books then my child will turn out that way.”  This high pressure method can lead to parents and children feeling anxious when their expectations aren’t met.

The analogy of the Gardener is to create a protected space to nurture your plants to flourish. You may draw out plans and carefully select where your garden will be planted.  You build a protective fence around it and carefully consider what seeds to plant, which soil is best.  You consult with other gardeners.  But you know the elements of nature can thwart your plans and can cause things to grow differently than expected.  You appreciate the value and beauty in the way each plant grows.  Though gardening can be messy, risky and challenging it can also provide the greatest joy when an unexpected plant shows up in just the right place.  You don’t place value on your abilities as a gardener by the way the garden turns out.  You expect that with the foundation you have laid the plants will thrive with strengths/beauties and adapt to weaknesses/difficulties making your plants perhaps more resilient.

As parents, you prepare your children to prepare for these elements.  You do more than meet the basic needs of your children.  You share your knowledge and feedback from your experiences out in the elements.  You model setting boundaries, empathy, compassion and kindness.  You’re open to the probability that your children will not turn out exactly as you expect them too.  You continue to love and nurture them while they grow and develop into who they are going to be.

As a parent myself, I think that many of us strive to follow our kids lead while creating a protected space to nurture them, just as a Gardener.  But, I also think there is a Carpenter in all of us.  Our own childhoods have shaped us in what we want to provide or avoid for our own children’s experiences.  We may make intentional decisions with an outcome in mind because of an experience we had.

I think we can find balance between these two methods. To have some very general and realistic expectations while being laid back and flexible to accept and create a new plan.  To have the best intentions about what we feel is best for our children and the ability to put aside our expectations and accept who are children really are.

If you’re interested in learning more about the book here is a recent NPR interview with the Author Alison Gopnik https://www.npr.org/2017/12/11/569907638/the-carpenter-vs-the-gardener-two-models-of-modern-parenting

– Amy Rudawsky, Co-Director


2018-19 School Year Lottery Results

Posted on February 18, 2018 in category SYC Announce

Below you will find the lottery results for the 2018-19 school year. Children were enrolled using priority levels and a computer-generated random lottery number to determine enrollment order. Please keep in mind that these results are preliminary. Although each year is different, we usually have a good deal of waitlist movement between February and the beginning of the school year in September. We are continuing to accept applications for the 2018-19 school year.  Enrollment materials can be found on our Enrollment page.

2018-19 School Year

Updated 2/18/2018

Class Spots Available # on waitlist
MW am 2’s 0 15
TTh am 2’s 0 15
January Fri 2’s 0 14
MWF am 3’s 0 25
TTh am 3’s 0 15
TWTh pm 3/4’s 0 16
MWF am 4’s 0 30
TTh am 4’s 0 13
TWThF pm 4/5’s 0 14


2018-19 Registration Materials

Posted on January 04, 2018 in category From the Office

2018-19 Registration Materials

The 2018-19 Registration Packet is now available here and the 2018-19 Scholarship Application can be found here. The application form (pages 5-6 of Registration Packet), Scholarship Application and $60 non-refundable application fee are due by noon on February 16 for best possible placement and financial assistance. If you are new to SYC, we strongly recommend you schedule a visit with Holly in the office (call 614-267-0254) before you submit your application and $60 non-refundable application fee.

Please email or call us with any questions.


Posted on December 12, 2017 in category Director's Blog


I recently had  a discussion with someone, having had their own experience parenting and now grandparenting a four year old, about children speaking up for themselves.  As a teacher, I described to the grandmother how her granddaughter had spoken up for her rights in my classroom after she had been rejected in play by a group of kids.  Her grandmother and I delighted in how powerful it was that she was able to speak up in such a potentially fragile moment.  She had the skills and the practice to respond appropriately.

Her grandmother then shared a powerful message with me that I have been pondering ever since.  “Her mother was the same way,” she said.  People used to say to me, “you let your daughter speak forcefully to you.” My reply to them was always, “Of course I do.  How will she ever learn to speak forcefully out in this world if she can’t practice it speaking to her mother?”

“A-ha,” I thought.  This offered me a different perspective.  Children usually save all their big feelings and tantrums to release onto their caregivers.  As parents, we’re just lucky, I guess. We have earned their trust through attending to their needs through infancy and toddlerhood. They have learned to trust we will take care of their basic needs and set appropriate limits to keep them safe and guide them through the stages of development.

As kids grow and develop, so should our tools and parenting.  Our children’s needs change from needing us to attend to their every cry to stepping back and letting them learn to problem solve. It is our job to have a place for them to fall when life doesn’t go they way they expect it to.

So what are your long term parenting goals?  We are not just raising children we are raising adults.  Is it important to you that your child “obeys” and listens the first time you request something?  Do you want your child to obey in their adult relationships with co-workers, friends and partners?  Or do you want your children to become adults that respectfully question authority? Do you want them to preserve their self care by being able to say no to friends and to communicate their needs to their partners?

Setting children up with the tools, experiences and practice for developing autonomy lets children know that we trust them. That we trust that they can attempt new challenges. Sure, it’s faster if we put their coat on them and zip it up so we can quickly get out the door.  Giving them the practice to do it themselves let’s them know that we think they are capable  Children feel good when they complete a new task, but they need practice.  When we send the message that we trust that they are quite capable, it can lead them to taking more initiative and risks.

Does this mean we should allow our kids to walk all over us, make all the rules, and let them dictate our entire daily schedule?  No.  Doing so would give kids too much power.  Our jobs as parents are to guide our children to be able to separate from us and to live in the world without us hovering over them.  Setting appropriate limits and teaching kids social constructs gives children the guidance and feedback they need to be autonomous.

If something is not working, try changing it or changing your perspective.  Think about what kind of adults you hope to raise.  The interactions and relationship style we develop now with our children will influence and direct our experiences as we prepare our children to launch into the world.


…Amy Rudawsky, Co-Director